Huber Simons has spent the past 21 years of his career as the facility manager at the College’s castle in Well, Netherlands. As he explained it, he “wears many hats” since he is one of only 14 staff members at Kasteel Well (some of whom are part time).
He is in charge of facility management, supervising seven maintenance colleagues who clean the two buildings and do repairs. He also oversees emergency management, ensuring that emergency plans are updated and that rules and regulations for alarm systems are being followed. He and ECPD Chief Bob Smith collaborated recently on the castle’s overall security plans.
Simons oversees IT operations, making sure that the 25 computers in the computer lab, offices, and classrooms and all of the audiovisual equipment in the classrooms are up to date. Up until a few years ago, he and his staff were responsible for solving all IT issues. Now the IT staff in Boston have full access to the computers and can troubleshoot problems. He noted that it was quite a challenge to install a wireless network in the medieval castle a few years ago.
Simons also purchases “everything from toilet paper to office furniture.” The only items that he doesn’t purchase are academic and office supplies. Housing is yet another area in which he is involved. He does room assignments for the 85 students who reside there each spring and fall and for the 16 who reside there in the early summer. When students arrive, he goes through the inventory in their rooms to confirm that they have everything they need. He also handles the occasional housing issue, such as when a student requests to move to another room.
He is happy to see a 20-year project coming to an end: renovations of the castle’s exterior and interior. The exterior was completed first, and they are now in the last phase of the interior renovations, which started in 2008. He explained that it has taken so long because the amount of work that can be done at any one time is limited when students are in residence.
Simons grew up in the town of Well and, as was required of first- and second-born sons at the time, joined the Dutch Army after high school. He stayed in the the army as a non-commissioned officer for 15 years. Soon after he decided to leave the army, he found the job at Kasteel Well.
He lives in Well with his wife, Mia, and their three children. His favorite hobbies revolve around sports. He participated in motocross racing until 1999, competing across the Netherlands and in Belgium and Germany. His two sons have picked up the sport as well. He is also a big soccer fan and occasionally attends live matches of the Dutch national team. In 2010, he and his wife attended many live World Cup matches during a visit to South Africa.
Simons said that he loves working at Emerson because of the variety in his work. He also enjoys working with the students and teaching them about Dutch culture. He said, “Hearing from them, when they leave, that this program changed their lives is very rewarding.”
Nancy Howell (Creative Services)